36 countries in 365 days! Are you mad?

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by Mauktik Kulkarni on Sunday, January 19, 2014


Session type

Technical level


This is a talk by someone who quit his comfy job and decided to backpack around the world for one year. Backpacking is still considered weird and backpackers are called crazy. The talk will speak to the virtues of aimless wandering and, more importantly, inspire people to follow their dreams.


Throughout the history of humankind, cutting across racial, religious, cultural, and geographical lines, long term travel has been celebrated as one of the most important ways of acquiring knowledge. Even in ancient Indian literature, Upanishadas and Dhammapada glorify the virtues of long term, and often aimless, traveling. In spite of the rich history of traveling Indians and the interesting insights gleaned by them in the past, most of the modern day Indians are unwilling to quit their jobs and travel around the world to learn.

After years of growing up in a middle class Indian family and following the standard path of Engineering-GRE- graduate school education in the United States, Mauktik Kulkarni decided to take a break from this normal world and traveled solo on a motorcycle in South America for six weeks. With virtually no vocabulary of Spanish, he somehow managed to cover 8000 kilometers in Peru, Chile and Argentina. His experiences are published as a memoir titled "A Ghost of Che: A Motorcycle Ride through Space, Time, Life, and Love."

The exciting adventures and the strangers that he met from all walks of life on the motorcycle trip prompted Mauktik Kulkarni to plan an even bigger, longer adventure. After coming back from the motorcycle trip in 2008, he worked for four years, quit his job, and traveled around the world for one year. With meager belongings, he managed to visit 36 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. This lecture, accompanied by a PowerPoint slide show, summarizes the thrilling, strange, scary, exhilarating, and sometimes exhausting experiences from the round-the-world adventure. More importantly, it attempts to inspire the youth to break out of the mold, follow their dreams, and carve out their own place in the world.


An LCD projector and computer speakers

Speaker bio

I am a neuroscientist, entrepreneur, public speaker, travel buff, author and now a movie-maker. In 2008, inspired by 'The Motorcycle Diaries,' I did a solo, 8000 km motorcycle trip in South America with no knowlede of Spanish. Here is the book about the trip:


From April 2012 to April 2013, I backpacked to 36 countries on all continents. Here is the blog with stories and photos from all around the world:


After finishing the trip, I have now teamed up with Brahmanand Singh, a national award winning director, to make 'Riding on a Sunbeam,' a travel documentary about India. We have finshed the shoot and here is the promo:


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